Lord Mandelson sets his sights on illegal file sharing
The Digital Britain report was published in June 2009, and covered a multitude of areas including tackling illegal file sharing. The report did not lay out precise legislation but called for initially a attempt to reduce the amount of illegal file sharing before introducing more draconian measures.
Lord Mandelson whose holiday has been played out in the national newspapers is reported by the Daily Mail as launching a crackdown on internet piracy with fines of £50,000 and suspension of internet accounts.
The business secretary plans to criminalise the estimated seven million people - one in 12 of the population - who illicitly download music and films over the internet.
In what critics describe as a gross attack on civil liberties, those flouting new laws could see their internet accounts suspended and face fines of up to £50,000.
Parents could even be thrown off the net even if it is their children are caught downloading tracks upstairs in their bedrooms, not them.
Lord Mandelson ordered officials to draw up the draconian regulations days after dinner with David Geffen, who founded the Asylum record label which signed Bob Dylan.Extract from Daily Mail article
If fines of £50,000 are ever levied for illegal file sharing then the likelihood of people going to prison for non-payment seems high, who has £50,000 lying around and potentially parents could be served the fine if their children are underage. Suspension of an internet account would also seem to go against the whole idea of Digital Britain, which is to get people online and encourage those who've never used the internet to go online, for some families proposals like this may encourage them to never go online to avoid this sort of problem.
If the proposals for tackling illegal file sharing are too harsh there is a real risk of delaying the parts of the Digital Britain bill when it comes before parliament, and with the General Election at most nine months away it would not take much to derail the bill.
Of course for the hardcore illegal file sharers, the risk of fines will be no deterrent, they will find ways to download material off-shore and then get it electronically into the UK via secure means. Stories like this were played out in the 1960's with the rise of pirate radio stations, recently dramatised in the film The Boat That Rocked.